The power of digital transformation in online shopping

Blue Prism’s Claire Hulett discusses how an understanding of the shopping journey’s pain points can help retailers choose technologies to improve the customer experience

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By Guest on 31 January 2019
The power of digital transformation in online shopping

This article was originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.  

Customer returns and exceptions processing are the bane of most retailers’ existence any time of year, but never more so than during the holidays. In the US alone, package delivery company UPS processed more than six million return packages during the first week of January 2018 – and 1.4 million of those were sent back on 3 January.

Most customer dissatisfaction with online shopping happens long after credit cards are charged. The 2018 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study found that 61% of consumers globally felt let down by their online shopping experience during the last holiday season – up from 47% in 2017 – with confusing return policies, inaccurate tracking and expensive shipping costs being the most common complaints.

For ShopDirect – the UK’s ­second-largest pureplay online retailer, which generates annual sales of more than £1.93 billion (US$2.45 billion) – understanding the pain points of the customer journey has led to it implementing technological innovations that have enhanced the customer experience.

ShopDirect ships 49 million products a year and has more than four million active customers. To sustain that level of success, the retailer wanted to change the way it served customers, handle exceptions, process returns and manage overall customer financial services.

The company’s primary goal was to automate the entire customer journey from purchase to return – including exceptions handling, fraud and identity theft procedures, customer payment terms and other customer-facing financial services. It also wanted its fraud analysts to have more customer-centric conversations, rather than being stuck with administrative tasks.

ShopDirect chose Blue Prism’s Intelligent Automation platform to automate and improve the efficiency of returns and a multitude of financial services processes. The solution also gave the retailer the added benefit of a complete audit trail and clearer financial visibility.

Blue Prism’s Digital Workforce solution has helped ShopDirect process 1.7 million accounts, become more efficient and cut costs. The company saves around 328,000 hours each year and also gains £16 million in incremental revenue.

By using robotic process automation as an essential tool for digital transformation to automate more than 130 common processes, the company’s advanced fraud analysts can now use their skills in more valuable ways – including spending one-on-one time with those customers who need it most. ShopDirect has also experienced an overall increase in customer satisfaction, and as a result, an uptick in loyal customers. 

Claire Hulett is Blue Prism’s partner director for Microsoft in EMEA

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